It's never too late to begin the healing process from childhood sexual abuse. It's never too early to fall in love with the person God created you to be. Long ago someone made a choice to take away your innocence, but today that someone can't touch your freedom to heal.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Got You Babe

It was snowing paper towels. We were on our hands and knees, wiping up vomit, when my husband leaned toward me. "You know, I wouldn't want to be doing this with anyone but you."

I smiled at his words. We had said them to each other over and over again through long nights with crying babies, through unexpected deaths and cancer with loved ones, through painful choices made and endured, through self-discovery and change, and the list goes on . . .  And the list grows with each passing year.

But after twenty-five years of marriage (today is our  twenty-fifth wedding anniversary), we're still saying it.

I'm not an expert in marriage. I'm not even an expert in my own marriage. But this I know: I wouldn't want to be doing life with anyone else than the man who took my hand twenty-five years ago and committed himself, before God and others, to stay by my side for better and for worse.  And who can turn the most disagreeable task, like cleaning up vomit, into a romantic promise by saying those precious words yet again, "You know, I wouldn't want to be doing this with anyone but you."

Right back at ya, Babe. I pray we get another twenty-five. Happy Anniversary!

Thanks for allowing me to digress this week and throughout advent. Next week we'll explore why kids don't tell when they're abused--important knowledge to have in the effort to protect our kids. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas! Tamar's Redemption Style

She entered the room. Everyone stared. Some whispered. They thought it was a bold move by the one who had created the latest scandal, showing up in public, displaying the evidence of her choices for all to see.

She cradled the evidence, the newborn, protectively, nervously, in her arms. She had come to this gathering to honor her dad.

Her father ignored their stares. Her father ignored their whispers. And right in front of everyone, he strode toward his daughter. He welcomed her, his face beaming. Then he snatched up the evidence, and cradling the newborn in his large, worn hands, he moved from person to person saying, "I'd like for you to meet my new grandson."

Nothing else matters to her regarding that day. All the stares and whispers are but a faded memory. She understood that she was loved. She knew that her child was cherished.

And it was her father who helped her take her first step toward healing, her first step toward her heavenly father--her first step toward redemption.

Merry Christmas! 

Luke 1:17 ". . . He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children . . . " (NLT)

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Touch of Humanity

The cold took my breath away as I raced from my minivan across the parking lot toward TJ Maxx. I was on a hunt. The hunted? A simple, black nondescript sweater. I already own one, but I rarely wear it. Why? Because my daughter's always borrowing it. Hmmm . . . I thought the definition of borrow was to use and then return.

My solution: Buy her a simple, black nondescript sweater for Christmas.

My plan: Head to TJ Maxx to hunt.

Now, I don't like to hunt. I prefer to shop. Hunting requires that I remain focused and search for something specific. Shopping allows me to wander and take in the view, flitting from one rack to the next, destination unknown. I like random. Random is good. But ten days before Christmas there's no time for random. I'm forced out into the cold cruel world—to hunt.

I entered the store, glad to be in the warmth, and began to prowl through the racks. Focused. But I kept getting interrupted.

"Cashier Number Two will assist you now," said the computerized feminine voice.

Moments later: "Cashier Number Five will assist you now."

The voice was interrupting my hunt. I wonder if those employees hear that voice over and over in their heads when their trying to sleep at night. I thought. Poor things. And the annoying voice continued. And the hunt continued.

And the annoying voice continued. "Cashier Number One . . . , Cashier Number Three . . . , Cashier Number Two, . . ."

By the time I nabbed the prize sweater (yes, TJ Maxx had one, love it when that happens!), I was programmed.

I stood in the checkout line, oblivious to those around me and progressed forward, one annoying cashier number at a time. "Cashier Number Three will assist you now. Cashier Number Five will assist you now." And so on.

Finally, I made it to the front of the line. And I waited, and waited, lost in my Christmas to-do list thoughts. I peered out the window, staring at nothing. Eventually, my eyes drifted back to the line of cashiers.

Then it was if someone said, "Earth to Carolyn. Earth to Carolyn. Come in Carolyn," as my eyes landed on Cashier Number Two. Is she looking at me. I thought.

I pointed to my chest and mouthed, "Me?"

She smiled and nodded yes.

I took the simple, black nondescript sweater and made a beeline to Cashier Number two.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I wasn't paying attention. I didn't hear the voice say your number."

She grinned. "Sometimes a little eye contact works better, don't you think?"

I couldn't have agreed more.

"Happy Holidays!" she said as she handed me my bagged prized sweater.

My eyes met hers. "And Merry Christmas to you too."

Wishing you many touches of humanity during these final countdown days toward Christmas. Happy hunting!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rocking Around the Relationships

I could hear the frustration building in their conversation, two young mothers discussing Christmas gifts for their kids. The questions of how many presents, what kind of presents, and comments of Johnny wants this and Susie wants that, were bubbling forth like froth from freshly poured root beer. I wasn’t eavesdropping, I was just sitting in a rocker next to them soothing a colicky baby in the church nursery and remembering . . . remembering what it was like years ago when I had the same questions, the same overwhelming feeling, and the same stress. Still, I was trying to mind my own business—really.

Then one of them turned toward me, making it my business. “What do you do for your kids at Christmas?”

“Yeah,” the other mother said, “with your seven kids and all, do you do a Pollyanna exchange or something?” (She was still trying to wrap her mind around the size of my family. I could tell. This happens often.)

I smiled and thought, Yep, adding three more kids to our family two and a half years ago has put a strain on our budget, but it hasn’t come to that yet. “No,” I said, “my kids get three presents just like Jesus did. A wise friend shared that idea with me years ago. It’s helped me manage the Christmas stress throughout the years.”

“Wow, that’s a great idea!” the first mother said.

“Yeah!” the other agreed.

Then mother Number One got serious, leaned in, and nearly whispered, “But did your kids ever say anything? I mean . . . were they disappointed that that’s all they got?”

She wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

“You know, I don’t remember any comments, but it’s a fair question. I think I’ll go home and ask my two children who are now young adults.”

It’s enlightening having honest conversations with adult children. Some things you want to hear, some things you don’t. Ah, but having a relationship with your kids—ROCKS! So I asked them, individually and privately, how they felt about receiving just three gifts at Christmas.

Here are their responses:

First Born, “It never really bothered me except one Christmas, when I was hanging out with my friends, and I heard about all the stuff Joe got. But you know, I really don’t think the three present “thing” has hurt me at all.” (He's a social worker. He thinks about the overall affect on a life in terms of permanent damage.)

Second Born, “Only during times when kids were comparing their stuff, but that’s not what Christmas is about. It’s about family. It’s about being together.” (He's our social one. If there's a party, he's there.)

We long as parents to give our kids an amazing moment each Christmas morning. Believe me, I get that. I still try to have at least one present each child opens up that makes their eyes sparkle and makes me feel like I’m the best momma in the world. But we all know it’s not about the gifts or my feeling like the best momma. It’s about the relationships. It’s about belonging. Being known. Being loved. And together celebrating the relationship we can have with God. For long ago, he sent His son just because He longs to be in relationship with us. And He thinks being in relationship with His kids—ROCKS!

What are you doing to keep your stress level low this holiday season?

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter my fiftieth blog post celebration. See previous post.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Contest Anyone?

It's almost time to celebrate my fiftieth blog post and in honor of my accomplishment (seven kids, you bet, this is an accomplishment for this busy momma), I'm giving away a series of books entitled God's Design for Sex Series to one blessed blog reader.

Now, in case you've just turned a funky shade of red and are wondering if you just read the word sex on my blog site, let me be clear: Yes, you just read the word sex on my blog site. God's Design for Sex Series is a series of age appropriate books that parents can use to teach their kids about sex.

Now why would any parent want to do that you might ask? They don't. But it's a parents job to do that, and if you're like me, you need all the help you can get. (Incidentally, we tried using hamsters at the Ruch house to teach these lessons. I don't recommend this. You just end up with a lot of little hamsters.) I love these books. They are well written and the illustrations are beautiful. And they make an uncomfortable job a whole lot more comfortable.

So how do you enter? Just make a comment on my blog, on any post you desire, between now and December 31st. The winner will be chosen at random in high tech fashion by one of my kiddos picking a name from a hat. I will announce the winner on January 1st, 2011.

Happy commenting!
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